Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Posts Tagged ‘futureofmedia’

Review – The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Posted by shannonclark on October 12, 2012

Reading The Impact Equation at Blue Bottle Mint Plaza in San Francisco

Do you know how to make an impact? How to get heard? How to have your ideas shared with the world and have an impact?

My friend Chris Brogan along with his co-author Julien Smith have a new book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?, which will be published on Oct 25th, 2012. They sent me a preview copy and over the past couple of weeks I have been reading it at cafes and on the muni here in San Francisco. My copy is already dog eared and flagged with post-its for easy reference back to key points in the book.

TLDR review – pre-order this book and read it

First a few disclosures and admissions. One, Chris Brogan is a friend – not an old “grew up” with friend, but not just someone whom I follow on social media channels, he’s someone whom I have met in person many times and whom I knew years ago before he had books published and a speaking schedule that takes him around the world. Two, I haven’t (yet) read Trust Agents which is Chris and Julien’s earlier book. My stack of books to be read – for fun and for business including far too many by folks I know has been large and growing over the past few years and somehow I haven’t gotten to Trust Agents yet. Three, many of the people they write about in this new book (and I suspect in their previous book) are people I know friends from here in San Francisco and from the larger tech/social media/blog/podcasting world. Four, I don’t have the 1000’s of readers/followers/listeners of folks like Chris and Julien but I am as they say “a degree away” from many people who do – folks with millions of followers and a high impact on the world.

With all of that disclosed up front I have been inspired not just to write this review but to rethink a bunch of my personal projects (including this blog) and over the next few weeks and months I anticipate making many personal and professional changes inspired in no small part by the ideas of The Impact Equation. I can’t summarize their book in a few short paragraphs but I will summarize a few of their early and key points and discuss how I plan on addressing them.

To start with the equation itself (quoting from the pre-release copy but I assume this key part won’t change in the final print edition):

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

Yes, that is, not surprisingly, the simple yet key fact that to have impact now (and in the past) you have to create Рfrequently, often and well. The full equation defines each part and the book illustrates each aspect of the equation. Contrast Рa new idea has to familiar yet different enough to be noticed. Reach Рthe number of people you can get connected to your ideas. Exposure Рhow often do you connect with the people you can reach. Articulation Рbeing understood and clear in communicating your idea. Trust Рthe subject of their previous book but still not entirely figured out Рbut why will people listen to you? And finally Echo Рthe feeling of connection that great ideas and impactful people create.

Fairly simple, fairly memorable yet also complex enough to warrant a full book (and I’m sure many more talks and presentations in the future for Chris and Julien).

On a person level my biggest takeaways from the book is a reminder to get myself back into the ongoing, frequent content creation business – that if I want to grow my own personal impact I need to create more content, more often, and more thoughtfully. Furthermore I need to think about this whether I’m going to continue being an independent consultant or if I join a larger organization. That while I may have some impact in my tweets, comments, email list participation and even events that I create if I were more thoughtful about my online (and offline) activities I could have a much greater impact on the world. With more thoughtful (and literally more frequent) effort I can have a far larger impact on the world than i do today. That I can take the conversations I have one-on-one today and still have that impact but also bring it to a far wider audience.

For some of this I will have to get out of my comfort zone – write more content, experiment with new formats for myself (video? audio?) and generate this content far more frequently than I have been for the past few years.

In each of the chapters of The Impact Equation Chris and Julien cover a mix of specific tactics (and the occasional exercise to get you thinking) as well as stories that illustrate their key ideas. Some of these stories are from business people they have met others are illustrated with celebrities they admire. But in every chapter they also focus on asking you to think about how this applies to yourself – how would you evaluate yourself on this dimension of their equation. I think most of these chapters and the book over all are compelling but not every chapter is equally strong.

The initial chapters on Ideas – on Contrast and Articulation are very good and have a lot of useful exercises for everyone. In particular they have a lot of great exercises around how to evaluate your own ideas and how to communicate them clearly.

The middle chapters on Platforms – on Reach and Exposure – however are a bit weaker. In particular I think the chapter on Exposure is the weakest chapter in the book. In part this is because Exposure is in no small part outside of your direct control. They talk in this chapter about the exposure that someone like Jimmy Fallon has from his tv show but they also talk about the impact of frequency on your exposure but the links and what will work best for most people is not entirely clear from this chapter (and it is perhaps not an easy thing to answer). They have a lot of great questions and a few answers but this chapter left me a bit unsatisfied. Yes, participating in the communities you want to reach is great advice (it is what I tell my clients in fact) but it takes more than just that to get great exposure of your ideas.

The final chapters on Network – on Trust and Echo, Echo – are perhaps surprisingly among the shortest in the book. The chapter on Trust is a revisit (per what they wrote, I haven’t yet read Trust Agents) of the topic of their earlier collaboration. The chapter on Echo (Echo, Echo) is nearly the end of the book and very important but also fairly short. It is about how your ideas resonant and connect. Very important but I think if they could have gone a bit deeper here the whole book would have “echoed” for me even more strongly. But that said they make some really important points in this last chapter leading to the conclusion of the book.

Overall as I said above my recommendation is that you go out and buy this book – in fact that you go preorder it now to be among the first to read it. I hope for my friend’s sake that it is a huge hit and given the quality of the content I’m sure it will be a successful book. More importantly on a personal front it has many parts that I will be using myself to make changes in the coming weeks to my own professional habits and practices and online (and offline) content.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, networks, podcasts, reading, reviews, working | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Blogging with a computer

Posted by shannonclark on July 14, 2010

I am in Las Vegas for the next couple of days, here to celebrate with my friend Tara Hunt her birthday. She has brought together a group of her friends from all over the world and together we are spending sometime in what is perhaps my least favorite city but much improved by the company of friends.

As I packed for my short trip I debated about whether or not to bring my new MacBook Pro with me. It is a fantastic new machine and working on it still feels more like play than work. But if I had brought it I would have to watch it, would have to secure it when I joined the group at a cabana by the pool or went to a show (Ka tomorrow evening).

So instead I decided to only bring my iPhone 4 (along with bumper case – I haven’t had any antenna problems other than AT&T’s usual horrible service and dropped calls). I didn’t even bring my trusty and fairly new Panasonic Lumix.

As you can see from the photo, taken of the Irish band that played while er had dinner this evening, the iPhone 4 does indeed shoot well in low light and with the right apps – such as the WordPress app I’m using now – is a very powerful tool for new media creation.

I don’t know how many more posts I’ll write this week – mostly this is a vacation and though every move is likely documented by cameras, tweets and foursquare checkins in this particular crowd my focus this week is on catching up with my friends and making new friends.

But as I work on a new venture around helping game companies (mostly online social game companies) make more money there are a lot of lessons big and small I am seeing in how casinos (ie “gaming”) work here in Las Vegas.

Where the gaming is a bit less social though the social aspects are important and where the rewards are mostly very simple – cold, hard cash.

But I can also see that with casinos such as the Mandalay Bay Resort gambling is no longer the only (and indeed perhaps not the major) source of revenues for these establishments. Clearly food, drinks and entertainment as well as the hotel rooms themselves are now also significant revenue streams and may actually often be more profitable than gaming.

I haven’t been back to Las Vegas in a few years I think it may have been nearly four years and even in that short of a time it is clear that a lot has changed. As I sit here writing this post I am seeing a lot more people dressed (well barely in the case of many of the women) for a nightclub.

At the same time the poker rooms I have passed have been very full (since the World Series of Poker (wsop.com) is ongoing this doesn’t surprise me. But while much of Las Vegas depresses me at least with poker real actual skill is present.

I may try to catch some of the WSOP tomorrow after I tire of lounging poolside or swimming.

Posted in futureculture, geeks, internet, mobile, personal, working | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Curate for me – an idea for a simple web service

Posted by shannonclark on February 19, 2010

As always, I am posting this business idea publicly and “as-is”. Feel free to build it. If you do and want to give me credit that would be greatly appreciated – if you want me to be involved I would likely be willing to be and am always happy to talk further. But I’m not going to sue you if you run with this idea and build something that makes the web better.

Yesterday my friend Marshall Kirkpatrick tweeted about how few pages views a post on Read WRite Web about Google Maps in Africa had gotten. This post in turn sparked a discussion this morning on Google Buzz.

In that discussion I suggested the following:

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to filter content – tweets, blog posts and more. I don’t want “the most popular” (or the most retweeted etc) – that’s the stuff I’m most likely to have already seen, already heard about. Instead I want some way to see what people who’s opinions and views I care about think is the most important stuff they have created recently (and this also includes companies and brands – if I’ve chosen to pay direct attention to them – for example following Ford & Scott Monty on Twitter).

So that is my idea.

Create a very simple web site & service which would build two very simple sets of services.

Service 1 – Very simple tools for people to curate their own content & republish it into a consolidated feed

Service 2 – Very simple tools for people to link up who they follow (across many other services) to these new, curated feeds.

One key to this service would be that it has some real constraints built into it – restrictions that help force people into making real curatorial decisions about what amongst a bunch of content they have created it worthy of making this “must-see” list. I don’t know what the right constraints are – but I’d guess they are something like limiting people to less than 5 items a day (perhaps fewer).

Another key would be to make the process of using this service simple yet not too simple. Again the idea here isn’t to be an automated, full feed of everything you generate but to represent real thought & effort, real decisions about what is truly most important, most worth people seeing & noting even if it isn’t what is “popular” (or most retweeted, linked to by others etc).

Other constraints such as expiration of content might be helpful and important in keeping this service limited to just the most important stuff, just the really useful & interesting items (though I’d also keep this history of what you thought was important at various points in time as I think that too would be really useful and interesting to study).

To launch this it could probably be a web service with linked Oauth (Twitter OAuth, Facebook Connect, perhaps Google’s stuff as well). Ideally the interface would make it really easy for someone to login, see their content from many services and filter upon that content to just the content they most want to highlight to others.

The site/service would grow organically as people then promoted their new, filtered feeds/page out to their current followers across many services (and on their blogs etc). These feeds of “the best, must-see stuff” would make very natural widgets to be embedded across the web in many ways (on people’s blogs & personal websites, in their profiles in Facebook or LinkedIn etc).

I do not know if this service would have a real business model (I have some ideas but I’m not certain). Nor am I sure if it would meet a large demand or need – but I know that I, for one, would really like to see what a bunch of people who I care about, who I deeply respect and am very interested in, would think is the most important stuff at the moment. It might not be what I would think is the most important – but that is the point.

I want to learn what I have been missing, what my friends (and companies I care about) are most passionate about at the moment.

From businesses this might be deals of the day or it might be Haitian relief efforts. From my friends it might be their pending wedding, new job, a great post they wrote or a fantastic deal they found.

It doesn’t have to be web-centric either. My friend Alex Steffen tweeted earlier today about the magazines he bought at the newsstand to read this weekend. That is the stuff that really does interest me (see my post on my Media diet in 2010)

I’m happy if my friends and businesses I choose to follow use this for commercial purposes.

If they start to spam this service I have a simple way to stop that spam, I can choose to unfollow them.

The service should have a “block” or “mute” option unique to the service and could also suggest that you mute/unfollow/unfriend those people on other services where you were already following them (i.e. the services you used to authenticate and link to this new service).

So who wants to help me build this into a real service?

Posted in geeks, internet, networks | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Idea for a new magazine – to be named later

Posted by shannonclark on January 10, 2009

I recently learned about a very interesting new service, MagCloud, which prints magazines on demand and handles all subscription features (mailing, payment etc).  They are currently in limited Beta and have some limitations (the biggest of which is the cost for buyers Р$0.20/page though the publisher can set the price for any given issue at a higher rate to make some profit. 

For a long time I have been thinking about creating a media outlet of some form and at the moment I am serious leaning towards a magazine of some form. This post is an exploration of those ideas, it is a stake in the ground as to the shape of this new publication. It is also a call for submissions and volunteers.

The Name – to be named later

My working name for the publication was going to be Mesh (or The Mesh) but it turns out that there was a MeshSF magazine here in SF a while back (appears to be out of print now) and there is another Mesh magazine in Jacksonville Florida. Thus to be named later Рthe name has to be highly inclusive and evocative of the range of topics to be covered, while also not being too long or hard to remember or use (and yes this includes requiring that there is a good domain available). 

The Format

My thinking is that to be named later will be more akin to a series of books than a monthly (or more frequent) magazine, though over time it may evolve into a more frequent publication. Thus I am torn about a number of physical formats Рleaning between a book like size such as that used by Granta (or many University literary magazines), a slightly larger format such as that used by Foriegn Affairs, or a more traditional magazine size such as The New Yorker or Monocle (which is more booklike in format). 

That said, while a perfect bound format (glued edge) creates a more booklike publication, I personally find that format less conducive to reading Рas quite literally it makes it harder to read the publication (since you can fold the magazine to only view one page at a time as you can with a traditional magazine). That said, it does create a more archival publication which has some advantages. 

Years ago when I was the editor of a literary magazine (in high school, we won an award) we decided to go with a half size format which had some advantages especially for the publication of poetry as it created a highly readable format (if small).

However for to be named later¬†my goal is to have a publication which stays in print for a long time (so “back issues” remain available for a long period of time), which eventually (and as soon as possible) pays highly competitive rates for photos, art and articles, which supports a lot of very interesting writing, and most critically is a publication which I want to read myself.¬†

The Guidelines

  1. Articles must have a point of view, but may not be purely opinions.
  2. Every article will have illustrations – photos or art
  3. Every article will be bylined
  4. A very wide range of topics and types of articles will be accepted – no subject is out of bounds IF the writing is good, consise, and well written.
  5. Serious as well as non-serious writing is welcome and encouraged, including in most issues at least a few articles that meet peer-reviewed academic writing standards (footnotes and all)
  6. The physical form & design matters.
  7. Every issue will have at least one work of fiction (clearly identified) – genre writing not just welcome but encouraged (Science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance etc).
  8. Every issue will be meant to be relevant for at least a year, usually longer. Thus timely articles will not be printed, nor will reviews which are timelimited (i.e. of a limited run of a show – though movies which will eventually be on DVD may be accepted)
  9. While the focus may include regional and city interests – underlying to be named later will be a global perspective (though initially at least all articles will be in English)
  10. CC-licenses for the content will be encouraged (though not mandated) and while to be named later will retain a right to keep each issue “in print” for a long duration, authors & artists will have the right to sell their work for other publications (i.e. they retain all rights – but to be named later has the right to keep an issue “in print”, including via print-on-demand for a long duration – ideally perpetual). Much of to be named later (perhaps all) will be published online as well as in physical form – though the PRINT edition is the primary focus.

So what do those 10 somewhat random points mean?

First I am imagining a publication which will have a seriously broad range of articles Рfrom writing about food, to serious academic exploration of economics, to science fiction stories, to photographic coverage of art and hacking. 

That said, the focus of to be named later¬†will also be on timeless writing, on writing which is first and foremost eminently readable and engaging – which you want to turn back to and could pick up anytime after it is published and enjoy (i.e. this will not be a publication trying to cover breaking news or trying to get “exclusives” or scoops).¬†

to be named later will have advertising

Even if to be named later is wildly successful in generating interest and subscribers it will include commercial content from the beginning. Advertisers who welcome the timeless nature of to be named later and want to support the publication of high quality, challenging, intelligent writing covering a wide range of issues with a high focus on being enjoyable to read and experience. 

My tastes are wide ranging and eclectic Рa magazine I publish will reflect these interests Рand thus, I hope, will be of interest to an audiance that share some traits with me. In turn, I hope that there are (and I believe there are many) advertisers who want to reach this audience. Some may be local, some national, some global. All will be welcome (with some limited exceptions) specifically political or advocacy advertising will probably not be accepted as it would be discordant with the tone and focus of the magazine (which is inclusive not exclusive). 

Curation will be key. 

I may technically be the publisher, may also be an editor, but first and foremost I will be the Curator of to be named later Рit will be my tastes and decisions (or my choices on delegation) which will determine the content of the magazine. 

Topics to be covered

  • Food – especially from a Slow Food and serious foodie perspective
  • Local businesses – not reviews persay but stories about local businesses but with a global perspective
  • Hacking – especially from an Arts perspective
  • Science Fiction – both via publishing great stories (including perhaps Fantasy or other genres) and also articles about the field & genre
  • Science – especially reports from the frontiers of research
  • Business – if written about in a highly engaging manner and in a timeless manner
  • Non-fiction storytelling – think This American Life style stories – which can cover any topic imaginable but are written with a point of view and story to tell
  • Design – especially highlighting intentional design applied in innovative ways.

Topics which will not, mostly, be covered:

  • Breaking news – i.e. current events, pop culture etc
  • Politics – while great stories about campaigns might be published, “stories” which are more manifestos will not
  • Activism – I am a CENTRIST. I am neither “left” nor “right” and my magazine will reflect this. While we may, occasionally, take (and publish and clearly label) an opinion on important matters, my magazine will not be a forum for activism, nor will it mirror the articles found in most Free weekly newspapers around the country (indeed in spirit we will likely be more capitalistic)
  • Time sensative reviews – stories about the arts (movies, theater, music, books, gallery shows or events) will definitely be published, but reviews of specific events or limited availability content will not
  • Product reviews – the focus of the magazine will be on stuff people want to and will enjoy reading, reviews of products rarely meet this criteria – nor do they usually meet the criteria of remaining relevant for years to come (since most products today are only sold for a limited time and replaced later with newer/better/cheaper/faster versions)

I intent to be named later to be eclectic, to be personal, to probably not be for everyone. That said, for those to whom it resonates I want it to be a publication which is read cover to cover. The focus will be on being reader friendly first Рhigh design second (we will not be akin to Wired magazine in terms of design aesthetic)

All of this is tentative – now I am looking for:

  • Submissions: email submissions or ideas for articles/stories to shannon DOT clark AT gmail DOT com, please use a SUBJECT line of “Submission for to be named later”. Include a short bio of yourself, as well as the publication history (if any) of the article (preference is for unpublished writing). For the first issue(s) payment will depend on advertiser and subscriber targets so be prepared to only get a token initial payment (but the goal is to reach “professional” levels as quickly as we can. If you will only sell the story for a specific ammount include that, but realize that may impact our ability to accept the article/story for the first few issues
  • Volunteers: while in the future all staff will be paid (if only small amounts initially) to get going will be a labor of love, not money (unless we obtain financing or serious advertisers/sponsors quickly). Copyediting, “slush pile” reading, and pre-press layout help are initial core needs. Quickly as well help with advertising sales, distribution and more will also be needed.
  • Advertisers: From the first issue the plan is to have advertising. Rates almost certainly will go up as we grow the audiance, but the advertisers in the first few issues will be set – even as those issues remain (as is the plan) in print for at least a year, likely longer. So the first few advertisers will, we hope, get a bargain over the long term. There will be a limited number of full page ad opportunities, as well as a handful of partial page opportunities (think New Yorker style part of page ads). The back of the front cover as well as the back pages will be the highest cost ads. Rates are still to be determined, preference will be given for advertisers who are willing to commit to a full year of issues (at least 4 but the goal is to get to probably monthly). Advertisers will also be part of the online presense as well as the print publication – so should include a URL to link their ad to online. As a new publication ALL aspects of the readership are yet to be determined (including the size, demographics etc) so early advertisers must be interested in the mission of to be named later¬†and willing to support it. Exact dollars are hard to determine (and to a point go up as the number of copies printed go up) but my initial “gut” guess is that for the first 4 issues something close to $100,000 is needed to pay all writers & artists, to physically print the magazine, and to pay staff (even just a token amount). So a target of about $25,000/issue is the goal though more may be needed for the very first issue.
  • Investors – My plan is to bootstrap. Even in the absense of all the advertising support I might like, the goal is to use a service such as MagCloud to enable us to put out a first issue (or two) and build up the audiance over time. To learn by doing and to thus incur as little costs upfront as possible. But if the right investor or sponsor/grantmaker were to offer I would listen. My goal is first to get great stories published, secondly to make money doing so (mostly I want to build something which is self supporting at a minimum). I also want to test my theories about how a new media publication could more than just made do but also prosper even in the Web 2.0, “the media is dying” world.¬†

So that is the idea – very rough, may not happen, but I hope it will. Please leave a comment, blog about this, link to this or at least contact me if you are interested!

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, futureculture, geeks, internet, personal, photos, reading, tbnl, working | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Please copy this new business idea (but give credit)

Posted by shannonclark on November 23, 2008

Open Office

Consider this post as cc-atribution licensed – feel free to exploit this idea commercially (heck that’s the point) but please do give me at least some credit if you do

A timely, new (if also old) business idea

I describe myself as a locavore – whereever possible I try to purchase the food I eat – whether in restaurants or that I cook at home – from local sources – ideally as close to the source of production as possible. I shop at the butcher’s shop down the street, the corner (and great) produce market, the local farmer’s markets and try as much as possible to avoid shopping at big box national chains and when I do I try to purchase mostly locally sourced, seasonal products as well as fair-trade and environmentally friendly products when I have to (i.e. toilet paper etc).

But being a locavore is not just about food – I also try to do most of my other shopping – whether clothes, books, or gifts for family and friends from local stores. I often buy used books as gifts – both because I often find highly personally relevant works that way – and because philosophically I like supporting good reuse. However I also recognize that this does not support the authors directly – so in the case of books by friends of mine (which is literally nearly 100+ books a year, not all of which I buy) I generally buy those new, usually from a local independant bookstore (or occasionally the first week they come out from a big chain store such as Borders to help out my friend’s first week sales numbers).¬†

So what does my personal shopping preferences have to do with my business idea?

I moved to San Francisco only a few years ago, in that time I have spent a lot of time and wore out a few pairs of shoes, walking the streets of San Francisco learning the neighborhoods, finding shops and areas of interest. However I find that there is no good source for me to refer to, especially as we enter into the holiday shopping season, to know what stores are selling what, sales or special offers they are making, and especially about newer shops which might be offering just the right thing I want to buy.

I’ve looked at many of the various free publications here in SF (SF Weekly, The Bay Guardian) as well as a few of the monthly magazines – and while they offer a limited amount of coverage of the local scene (and even more limited amounts of local ads) none of them do a very good job – and the extremely local options (my neighborhood Noe Valley has a very small local newspaper) while interesting are quite limited in their coverage and fairly low quality.

Sites such as Yelp offer some coverage – though I do not like Yelp in the least – I find it next to useless – the food coverage is horrible and the shopping coverage to random and fundementally people have way too different a range of perspectives as to what is a “good value” to cite just one example or of what tastes good – I’m biased but I think I am a far more discriminating restaruant critic than the vast majority of the reviewers on Yelp.

My idea is a high quality, probably seasonal, web AND print publication (or publications)

The publication would be relatively high quality in the print edition Рthough it would start with the digital edition and extend rapidly to a print edition (once ad commitments were high enough to pay the cost of printing probably in color and a distribution/subscription plan was set). 

In terms of format the coverage of stores (which would be a major focus of the publication) would be highly visual Рlots of photos to illustrate every article Рat a minimum of the storefront, of the owner and/or staff, of a few representative products. The articles would ideally be part of a piece covering a broad theme Рeither a collection of related types of businesses and/or a given neighborhood of the city. 

Publishing an article would be seperate and NOT¬†related to that business running an advertisement in the publication. But in the course of talking with each business ads would be pitched – the articles would run online, would include a link to the store’s website (if it has one) but would be writen to be relatively timeless – i.e. wouldn’t be focused on current sales (or perhaps only a current show in the case of a gallery). If a store pays for an ad – that ad would be a platform for them to maintain up-to-date information about offers (discounts for readers, current specials, new shows, upcoming events). The ad text would be clearly identified as being an ad.¬†

Pricing would be flexible Рthis is a bit of an experiement Рmy rough thinking is that broadly speaking pricing would be tiered Рwith one level for businesses under some arbitrary size (or in certain categories) and a tiering up level up Рthe result in part being that national chains would be charged almost certainly a higher rate than most local businesses Рthough a local business selling very high end products (and thus if their volume is also high having a fairly high revenue base) would also be charged at the higher rates. Ideally the rates would be for the whole season Рso for a few months at a minimum. 

I don’t know the right rates – but my gut says something <$200 or so for a small business (<$250k/yr gross revenues) and going up from there to a few $K for a business such as Macy’s.

Technically each advertiser would be given a way to update their ad text Рwhich would appear online around the article covering their store/business as well as in relevant sections (so in the larger article covering their neighborhood or business type). Before the print edition(s) each advertiser would submit the content they want to have Рsmall businesses would likely have TEXT only advertisements and those paying a slightly higher rate would have small sized graphic ads (i.e. 1/4 page or likely smaller) with the largest companies who pay the higher rates being offered either a set of small graphic ads or a full page ad. The premium placements (back cover, front pages, middle pages) would go to the highest rates though likely at least one or two of those pages would be reserved for a collection of small, text ads from smaller local buisnesses. 

So this is a very commercial idea – it is not about long form investigative reporting, nor is it about highly political ranting (as is so much of the free weekly press). But neither is it only focused on businesses of a given type – i.e. not just “green” businesses or in the other extreme not just high fashion/design businesses.¬†

Executing on this idea would take a lot of people – and a lot of work – and the result would need to be carefully edited and produced to avoid (in the physical print form) being unwieldy – my instinct is to print many different editions – perhaps as frequently as once a week – with each one focusing on different neighborhoods and different themes – i.e. perhaps local butchers and bakers in the week before Thanksgving but also cover three distinct neighborhoods of the city – so both theme and geography – with the final result being nearly complete coverage of the city in some fixed period of time (perhaps the whole year or perhaps on a rotating basis over 3-4 months).

Each print edition might include a few long form articles – but initially I think it should not – the focus shoudl be on some visual (as well as textual) coverage of lots of businesses and lots of themes. As an article is written and edited the whole piece would be published online – probably with an editorial standard of a minimum number of photos (2-4 at least I think), an accurate address (or addresses), hours of operation, website link.

Of course technically much of this data could be marked up as one or more microformats – but that’s not the point here – the point is to build up a rich set of interesting content – content that gives you a solid sense of what the buisness is about (via visuals and writing with a human voice) combined with relevant – if also commercial – messages (i.e. ads from the business or related businesses – always clearly marked).¬†

The idea here is also to be a curator of the city (or more accurately to enable multiple people to curate different aspects of the city) so not every business will be covered Рonly the ones that a given curator thinks are notable Рare worthy of being writen up and discussed. 

So that is my idea in the broad outlines – yes, it is in many ways very traditional – it builds on past ideas (Yellow Pages, those free publications you find in most cities in your hotel rooms) but I think there are a few twists here as well – lots more visual content (enabled in part by digital cameras) and an experimentation in the form of advertising content – i.e. to have ads which are updated by the businesses automatically for the duration of their contract¬†(technically this could be via a custom RSS feed from a feed under the business’s control – with some HTML/URL filtering/preprocessing) Heck, the ads could technically be updated via Twitter!

In thinking about the businesss requirements of this idea I think it could be bootstrapped by a small core cadre of passionate people Рit would require a few sales people and a lot of writers Рinitially everyone would be working essentially on commission/spec Рbut eventually a rate per business would be set, as well as rates for the curators who would choose which businesses meet the criteria and editors who would ensure that all copy is of a high quality (gramatically, factually accurate, all photos licensed accurately etc). 

The reason to combine a print publication and the web are many – for one the print publication would then, in part, be distributed at the many local stores featured in the publicaiton (probably sold there not given away for free – placing a small price on it gives a revenue incentive to the stores – probably the face value would be set at say $3.00 or so – and the stores would keep it all for the say 20 copies they get for free – if they want more they pay for them at some preset rate)

Anyway lots of details to work out – but if you are interested in exploring this idea here in San Francisco leave a comment or contact me directly. If you want to explore this idea in your own city – as I said at the beginning consider this cc-atribution – please go and try this – build up a great buisness and make lots of money – just also please give me some small bit of credit.

Posted in advertising, Entrepreneurship, internet, reading, reviews, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Future of Media is Curation

Posted by shannonclark on November 18, 2008

I can has Cheezeburger at Zoo I kan have a mashabul? Robert Scoble

Much has been written in the past few years about the Future of Media, dozens (perhaps hundreds) of conferences and discussions have occurred and there has been a lot of mashing of teeth, a lot of posturing, volleys of lawsuits on the behalf of some parts of the media landscape (RIAA I’m looking at you!), at least one major strike (Writer’s Union), numerous failing and flailing businesses and much confusion about what the future holds.

Starting with a shifting and varied definition of just what “media” is anyway.¬†

Without picking a particular definition, though I’ll try, here are a few of the many sources of what I include as “media” – books, magazines, journals, weekly newspapers, daily newspapers, radio, TV, blogs, online video, podcasts, Internet radio and other streaming audio, electronic books, online magazines, games (console, computer, online/web, even mobile), art (a broad category indeed).

And almost certainly there is someone, somewhere, creating a new form of content and experience which should be included in my list above.

So with so many variations what isn’t media?

Short answer – increasingly many things not previously part of the “media” have some aspects of the media – Gap’s recent Vote for t-shirt campaign¬†for example, the ads are fairly traditional “media” – albeit delivered online, but the shirts themselves were also a form of media and self expression.

Building on this expansive and highly inclusive definition of media – which includes media whose purpose is to entertain, media whose purpose is to inform, media which is intended to persuade, and media which is entirely personal and esoteric, what does the future hold for media?

I claim that the way forward for Media, at least the media which will have a sustainable and lasting future, media which will remain important as well as viable, is curation. 

What is Curation? 

In a way I am using an old word in a new way. I’m not, however, the first or the only person to use this broader usage. Originally curation referred entirely to what a curator did which, in turn, was to maintain a collection of art or artifacts, usually for a museum or art gallery. A curator would manage a museum’s collection, would put together a particular show or exhibition. That process might, occasionally, be referred to as curation. Virginia Postel made a similar point, though she used the term Age of the Editor back in 1994 in Reason Magazine.¬†

My meaning of curation is broader:

Curation РTo select and highlight specific media usually ground in a particular point of view

Simple perhaps, but I think also something new – something different than Editing, though not unrelated to what a good editor does at a magazine. Indeed I would say that some editors are also acting in a curator role, though many are not. The key point, I think, is that curation is a process that filters, that selects a set of things to be highlighted, that is about less not more.

So why do i claim this is the Future of Media?

Because as we entered a world where everyone can (and most people will to at least some degree) create media the volume of media available to all of us is increasing at a rapid rate. The technology which only years ago was only available at great expense to a small set of highly trained people is now available for free or for very low cost Рdigital cameras often with video capabilities are most new cellphones to note just one key example. 

Thus “professional” and “amateur” content will continue to proliferate and expand – likely with the “amateur” content vastly exceeding in quantity the “professional”. But value will be created by curators, such as the founders of I Can Has Cheezburger, Pete Cashmore of Mashable and Robert Scoble of FastCompany who each filter through a huge amount of media and select a small set of content to present to their respective audiences. In some cases they create the content themselves, hire others to create content, or select and promote works created by a large pool of people.¬†

Some curators will be highly selective, highlighting only one work a day if that, others will create a large pool of content every day. Many will work in many different mediums each an avenue for different forms of interactions and media. 

A few other great examples of modern curation at work

  • Monocle magazine¬†– a traditional print publication with a solid web presence, they look very much like a traditional if highly polished magazine, but they are also functioning as curators in many ways. They select a small set of physical goods which they sell customized versions of to their readers. In the content of the magazine itself they adopt a rich multimedia sensability – lots of photos and video on the web. See http://monocle.com
  • Jason Kottke – ¬†For many years Jason has blogged as a curator of as he calls it “fine hypertext products” in short he links to the best stuff he finds across the web, often design related, but wide ranging, across many topics, and for his passionate audiance almost always of great interest. His audiance is passionate enough that he supports himself from his blog and he selects his advertisers with much the same care as the sites to which he links. See¬†http://kottke.org/
  • WallBlank – A site that sells one print a day, five days a week, either a photograph or a print, always a limited edition and selected with care. One of a number of similar businesses which sell a small set of limited editions, usually only one or two works a day (or a week). See¬†http://wallblank.com/¬†other similar businesses with some differences are Threadless, PleaseDress.me and 20×200.com¬†

Posted in economics, Entrepreneurship, internet, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »